Blown call from Jerry Meals, bad baseball doom Red Sox in loss

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Make no mistake: the Red Sox played some pretty terrible baseball in losing 2-1 to the Rays on Monday. Still, a blown call at home plate in the bottom of the eighth cost them the tying run and, for that, Jerry Meals was to blame.

Here’s the video:

[mlbvideo id=”29251743″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Meals admitted after the game that he made the wrong call. Which is good. Personally, I have less of a problem with the call itself than his positioning to make the call. Everything happens so fast that bad calls are going to happen. It’s giving oneself the best chance to make the right call that’s important. Meals had all day to set up, knowing that the play at the plate was forthcoming. Yet he still put himself at the worst possible angle to judge the play. It’s ridiculous that home-plate umpires still retreat behind the catcher to make the call at the plate. The percentage of missed calls at home plate is maybe the single biggest reason expanded instant replay is needed.

But let’s not make this all about Meals. Let’s also spent some time on all of the stupid things the Red Sox did in the final two innings:

– After Ryan Lavarnway’s one-out double in the frame, the Red Sox sent in Daniel Nava to pinch-run, even though they still had Jose Iglesias on the bench. Not only is Nava just not that fast, but the move robbed them of one of their two quality pinch-hitting options.

– Stephen Drew followed with a double over Wil Myers’ head in right. Nava did a terrible job reading it and only advanced to third on the play. Inexcusable.

– That brought Brandon Snyder to the plate against Joel Peralta. Snyder was 6-for-45 with no extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts lifetime against right-handers, so pinch-hitting for him was an obvious, obvious call. Except Snyder had homered earlier off lefty David Price. Apparently, that warranted him another opportunity in John Farrell’s book. Besides, Farrell had already burnt one of his pinch-hitting options in Nava. It would have been Mike Carp hitting for him. Snyder was the player who hit the fly to left on which Nava was thrown out at the plate.

– In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single. The same Jacoby Ellsbury who happened to be leading the majors with 38 steals in 41 attempts. Regardless, the Red Sox had Shane Victorino try to bunt against Fernando Rodney anyway. It didn’t work, and Victorino ended up softly lining out on an 0-2 pitch after fouling off his bunt attempts. With Dustin Pedroia up, Ellsbury easily took second for his 39th steal.

– The Red Sox pushed the envelope no further from there. Baserunners are 11-for-13 lifetime stealing third off Rodney, but Ellsbury never went. He also decided to hang back on Pedroia’s grounder to short, when he could have gotten aggressive and tried to take third on the relay. Since he was only on second, the wild pitch Rodney threw to Mike Napoli with two outs proved harmless. Napoli ended up striking out to end the game, putting the Rays back in first place in the AL East at 63-43. The Red Sox are 64-44, a half-game behind.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco, as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

This latest blockbuster move comes just before baseball’s winter meetings, which begin early next week in San Diego. The Rangers said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson University, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his professional career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons.

New York won 101 regular-season games last season, second-most in franchise history, but was caught by NL East champion Atlanta down the stretch and settled for a wild card.

After declining his 2023 option, ending his contract with the Mets at $107 million over four years, deGrom rejected a $19.65 million qualifying offer in November, so New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation. Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.